Dying to be a Christian?

“May the Lamb that was slain receive the reward of His suffering.”  These words were shouted in chorus from the railing of a ship leaving Copenhagen on October 8, 1732.  John Dober and David Nitschman, members of the Moravian Brotherhood, had just sold themselves into slavery in order to reach the slaves of the West Indies for Christ and their cries rose to the Father as they sailed away.

The concept of the walking dead is relatively young (less than 150 years) and has gained resurgence in popularity in modern day books and movies.  But I suggest that on some level the church is intended to fill a vital role as the real “Zombie Apocalypse”.  In Luke 9:23 when Jesus invites us to “take up our cross daily and follow Him”, what do you think He was meaning?  If I look at my life, and frankly the lives of most Christians, I get the distinct feeling we haven’t taken Him at face value.  We have massaged, revised and padded those challenging words to be comfortable for us to quote and embrace as some metaphor suggesting a deep devotion to Christ.  But that is not what He said.  It would be nice if it was simply some poetic call of symbolism making us feel all warm inside.  But this call by Jesus is repeated in numerous places through the Gospels indicating losing our lives is the only way to really gain life.

A “fringe” mission of Assembly of God church has this statement on the web site called “Live Dead”.  , “Live Dead is a re-dedication to pioneering whatever the cost.  Live Dead realizes that the places today where the church does not exist are harsh, fierce, lonely and demanding, yet we still must go there. Living dead is a call to joy, a call to life, a call to hope.  Living dead means listening to the Spirit calling us to ‘take up our cross for the sake of those who don’t know what the cross is or what it stands for.’  Living Dead means listening to the example of those who have gone before us, men and women like Dietrich Bonhoeffer who said, “when God calls a man, he bids him come and die.”  Living Dead means listening to the cry of those in spiritual death. They call to us, “We will live, if you will die.”

I don’t know about you, but I haven’t had to give up that much to call myself a Christian.  Sure I’ve made “sacrifices” here and there.  But few of those sacrifices really put my life on the line for the sake of Christ.  I am re-evaluating my daily cross.  It took me a little while as I started to do this.  But I finally found my cross, right there, hanging safely on the wall in my “living” room – instead of me hanging on it.

Live Dead – The real Zombie Apocalypse

“May the Lamb that was slain receive the reward of His suffering.”  These words were shouted in chorus from the railing of a ship leaving Copenhagen on October 8, 1732.  John Dober and David Nitschman, members of the Moravian Brotherhood, had just sold themselves into slavery in order to reach the slaves of the West Indies for Christ and their cries rose to the Father as they sailed away.

The concept of the walking dead is relatively young (less than 150 years) and has gained resurgence in popularity in modern day books and movies.  But I suggest that on some level the church is intended to fill a vital role as the real “Zombie Apocalypse”.  In Luke 9:23 when Jesus invites us to “take up our cross daily and follow Him”, what do you think He was meaning?  If I look at my life, and frankly the lives of most Christians, I get the distinct feeling we haven’t taken Him at face value.  We have massaged, revised and padded those challenging words to be comfortable for us to quote and embrace as some metaphor suggesting a deep devotion to Christ.  But that is not what He said.  It would be nice if it was simply some poetic call of symbolism making us feel all warm inside.  But this call by Jesus is repeated in numerous places through the Gospels indicating losing our lives is the only way to really gain life.

A “fringe” mission of Assembly of God church has this statement on the web site called “Live Dead”.  , “Live Dead is a re-dedication to pioneering whatever the cost.  Live Dead realizes that the places today where the church does not exist are harsh, fierce, lonely and demanding, yet we still must go there. Living dead is a call to joy, a call to life, a call to hope.  Living dead means listening to the Spirit calling us to ‘take up our cross for the sake of those who don’t know what the cross is or what it stands for.’  Living Dead means listening to the example of those who have gone before us, men and women like Dietrich Bonhoeffer who said, “when God calls a man, he bids him come and die.”  Living Dead means listening to the cry of those in spiritual death. They call to us, “We will live, if you will die.”

I don’t know about you, but I haven’t had to give up that much to call myself a Christian.  Sure I’ve made “sacrifices” here and there.  But few of those sacrifices really put my life on the line for the sake of Christ.  I am re-evaluating my daily cross.  It took me a little while as I started to do this.  But I finally found my cross, right there, hanging safely on the wall in my “living” room – instead of me hanging on it.

Mock Not God!

I’ve been shocked by lots of stuff coming “out of the church” and those of you who follow this blog or have read my book know that my main focus is challenging me, you and the church to get our own house in order.  We have been so quick to campaign against same-sex marriage while at the same time exhibiting to the world our own hypocritical inconsistency.  We do this by seeming to ignore the fact of our having lost any moral high ground with the divorce and teen pregnancy rates at shameful levels in the church which is on par with statistics in the world.

But last night my shock was taken to a whole new level of intensity when the reputation of Christ was mockingly placed on trial on prime time TV.  Let me set the stage.  2009 – Mark Sanford (R) governor of South Carolina resigned in shame after he disappeared for a week in order to be with his Latin lover in an adulterous tryst.  He was subsequently fined for ethics violations and sent into political oblivion – or at least one would have assumed.  Fast forward to his successful effort yesterday to revive his political career by winning SC’s 1st congressional district seat.

During his speech last night he said “I want to publicly acknowledged God’s roll in all this”, “I want to acknowledge a God not just of second chances but third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth chances (which he said with a hint of a chuckle), because that is the reality of our shared humanity (what does that even mean) I am one imperfect man saved by God’s grace.”

Now on the surface this might sound like the work of a loving, forgiving and redemptive God.  But then you might ask as to the beautiful olive-skinned woman standing beside him as he gave his acceptance speech crediting God with his win”?  That would be the Latin lover he lost his first political career over, divorced his faithful wife over and blatantly continues in an illicit relationship with.

I just have one question.  Unless the verses relating to sexual purity have some unique dispensation, can anyone explain to me the difference between Mark Sanford standing in mockery of a holy God with his lover/mistress/fiancé at his side or a thief standing giving credit to God while still wearing around his neck the diamond pendant his is guilty of having stolen?  Doesn’t redemption somewhere along the line include repentance of and the ceasing of your illicit or sinful activity?

We often ask where the Islamic leaders are declaring as wrong any terrorist activity.  The real question is where are the brave leaders of the community of Christ crying foul when Christians behave badly?  With what voice I have – FOUL!